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House to allow committees to hold hearings even during break —Romualdez

All standing and special committees of the House of Representatives will be allowed to conduct meetings even during the sine die adjournment of Congress by the end of next week, according to Majority Leader Martin Romualdez.

During the hearing on the ABS-CBN franchise on Tuesday, Romualdez said he will formally make a motion to allow the joint House Committees on Legislative Franchises and on Good Government and Public Accountability to tackle the network's franchise during the sine die adjournment as well as the other panels to produce timely and productive laws.

"I support the continuous hearings of the Committee on Legislative Franchises on the franchise application of ABS-CBN," he said.

"In fact, this afternoon, I will move in plenary session, prior to its adjournment sine die, to authorize not only this Committee, but all the Committees, to conduct its hearings and deliberations on noteworthy and meaningful proposed legislations even on recess,” he added.

The joint House panels began hearing the bills granting another 25-year franchise to ABS-CBN after the House leadership decided to drop the measure that would supposedly give the network a provisional franchise until October 31, 2020.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, himself an author of the provisional franchise bill, has said the issue on the ABS-CBN franchise has already become "so divisive" and is taking up the time even as there are more pressing matters to discuss such as that of COVID-19 response measures.

He, however, vowed to have a fair and comprehensive hearings on the issue on the committee level.

Romualdez assured the public that even if the House is deliberating on the ABS-CBN franchise issue, the chamber will remain committed to passing laws, especially those that will help address the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

“I would like to underscore that, during the course of the deliberations and inquiries in aid of legislation before this Honorable Joint Committee, we will not be distracted and we will not lose track on shepherding priority legislations that will answer and cater to the needs of the welfare of the people especially in this challenging and difficult times," he said.

"We must work doubly hard not only to arrive at the decision on whether to grant the franchise application of ABS-CBN but more importantly, to craft and put into fruition the passage of the priority measures relative to the fight against the pandemic, and the eventual defeat of COVID-19,” he added.

The next hearing on the ABS-CBN franchise issue is set on Monday, June 1. —LDF, GMA News